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Thanks to modern technology, a group of patients at University Hospital Wishaw have been able to receive ‘virtual visits’ from their loved ones.

The patients, who are all inpatients of ward 10, have received video calls from their family members.

Due to Covid-19, visiting at all NHS Lanarkshire hospitals was suspended to limit the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable patients. Visiting is available in very limited circumstances.

Gillian Thomson, charge nurse, said: “Our patients are generally frail elderly and not all of them have access to a mobile phone.

“Although we keep families informed of how their relatives are, it is unfortunate that their not able to see them and witness how they are recovering.

“Due to the nature of the patients that we care for, the majority receive care from their family members at home as well as home care and are used to seeing them multiple times a week.

“We have one iPad in the ward, which we decided to set up to enable us to video call family members via facetime or skype.

“Patients and their families are jumping at the chance to get involved.

“We now have around seven patients taking advantage of this technology every day, with many being able to chat with several of their family members throughout the same day.

“Patients are telling us that a video chat with their family is the best thing to happen to them that day as it lifts their spirits.”

One family who have benefitted from virtual visiting is the Picken family from Larkhall.

Ian Picken managed to ‘see’ his 86 year old father while he was a patient in ward 10. His Dad, Jim, has been in and out of hospital due to a benign tumour on the brain which is causing him to be light headed and effecting his balance.

Ian said: “My Dad has been in hospital since the start of the lockdown, we haven’t seen him since he was admitted.

“Over the past few years, my Dad has become gradually weaker and I now visit him daily to make sure he is ok. A daily visit has become part of my routine. Although I know he is in good hands in the hospital, I miss not being able to see my Dad every day.

“I am very close to my family. When my mum was in hospital, I barely left her side for five weeks. I would do the same for my Dad and I can’t just now.

“My Dad is normally a very chirpy guy. I noticed a difference in him from not speaking to his family for a few weeks.

“Virtual visiting is a great idea, especially since I am aware that the staff will be run off their feet. I am grateful for them facilitating any time I can get to see him.

Another family taking advantage of the technology is the family of 83 year old Janet Watt from Carnwath.

Janet’s daughter Linda said: “I normally see my mum five or six times a week as I cook a lot of her meals.

“Due to Covid-19, we have been unable to visit my mum in hospital. From being used to seeing her so often, it was hard not being able to visit.

“However, the ward is good at keeping you up to date and I knew she would be well looked after.

“It was absolutely brilliant to be able to see how she looked in hospital, you could physically see her recovering.

“When the video call came in, my daughter had just arrived to drop off some shopping for me. She stood 2m away from me, so that my Mum would be able to see both of us at the same time.

“Mum hasn’t used a computer before and isn’t very technology savvy. However, she was really pleased to see us and was laughing away.”

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